From the author of The American Inquisition (1982), the most authoritative and exhaustive study yet of the Watergate crisis. ""Neither Nixon nor we can escape Watergate""--this is the lesson that Kutler (History/Univ, of Wisconsin) weaves through his dense, detail-packed narrative. Tracing Watergate to its roots, he finds that ""the fall of Richard Nixon was the last act in the decades-long melodrama that haunted the American stage, [when]. . .war and unprecedented social protest. . .eventually culminated in Watergate."" The specific event, stretching from the 1972 burglary to the 1974 resignation, was, to Kutler, ""rooted in the lifelong political personality of Richard Nixon""--a personality rife with ""political paranoia,"" opportunism, ""tricky"" behavior, and the need to win elections at any cost. Most importantly, Watergate was, Kutler argues, an official attack on our liberties by a President sworn to uphold these very liberties. Fortunately, Kutler writes, the outcome was proof that America was still ""a nation of laws and not of men only,"" and proof also that politics is still ultimately linked to ethics. Well-done, committed history--and a solid counterbalance to Nixon's own dismissal of Watergate as ""the thinnest scandal.